The sad thing about the Distribution Wars was that it was entirely self-inflicted. Although, as Miller points out, no one acted very well, the main architect was financier Ron Perelman, Marvel’s then owner, whose aggressive acquisitions and leveraging proved no more successful at Marvel than they did at Revlon, and left a smoking crater — and Marvel’s bankruptcy — in its wake:
As to the performance of the comics industry in the period, there is not much good to say. Diamond owner Steve Geppi said in the summer of 1995 he believed there were 6,400 comics shops; that was down from 11,000 at the beginning of 1994, and it would drop closer to 4,500 by the end of 1996. Credit, easy to get in the boom days of multiple distributors, tightened considerably, as both Diamond and Capital spent 1995 shrinking their extensive warehouse and trucking networks. (Heroes World, meanwhile, was fighting to get up to speed as a national distributor for Marvel — which it never really succeeded at, hence the return to Diamond.)
While the lessons of the Wertham Era are well noted, it’s our opinion that more attention should be paid to this sad memorial to hubris and short-sightedness.
More 1995 sales charts from Miller here.